We thought we could do better.
Better? I say, in a small voice. How can he think this is better?
Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse, for some.

But how can you have a sense of wonder if you’re prepared for everything? Prepared for the sunset. Prepared for the moonrise. Prepared for the ice storm. What a flat existence that would be.

her. The cornered woman; the penitential dress falling straight down, concealing feet that were surely bare; the straw mattress on the floor; the timorous hunch of the shoulders; the arms hugged close to the thin body, the long wisps of auburn hair escaping from what appeared at first glance to be a chaplet of white flowers – and especially the eyes, enormous in the pale face and dilated with fear, or with mute pleading – all was as it should be. He

But then it came to me that who I really am is a person who doesn’t need to know who he really is, in the usual sense. What does it mean, anyway – family background and so forth? People use it mostly as an excuse for their own snobbery, or else their failings. I’m free of the temptation, that’s all. I’m free of the strings. Nothing ties me down.

Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word – musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.

But why bother about the end of the world? It’s the end of the world every day, for someone. Time rises and rises, and when it reaches the level of your eyes you drown.

I want to protect myself from any further, darker memories of hers, get myself out of here gracefully before something embarrassing happens. She’s balanced on the edge of an artificial hilarity that could topple over at any moment into its opposite, into tears and desperation.

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